A review of last night's "The Office" coming up just as soon as you let me handle the Tolkien references...
Okay, at what point do I need to start worrying about the state of the series? I've enjoyed a number of episodes this season - not just Jim and Pam's weddding, but "The Lover" and "Murder" and several others - but there have also been some really dire ones ("Mafia" may have been the worst episode since the pilot).
More troubling, though, has been the execution (or lack thereof) of the story arcs, and the way a number of characters have been written. Jim and Michael as co-managers never amounted to anything and has now been dropped. Dwight and Ryan's plan to sabotage Jim was both over-the-top and a lobotomizing of Ryan. (He's a lazy d-bag, but he's not remotely as stupid as he came across last night.) I love the Andy/Erin non-relationship, but now it feels like it's being dragged out simply because Jim and Pam took forever to hook up, and not because it's still funny that neither one can just tell the other that they like them.
And two episodes into the Dunder-Mifflin Sabre(*) storyline, I'm not feeling like there's a real sense of purpose to it in the way that Ryan's promotion, or Charles Miner's arrival had. Kathy Bates gets to come in and play her character from "Primary Colors" again, and Jim goes back to being a salesman - and much too quickly, as I think there was at least another episode or three's worth of mileage out of Michael being a regular employee again and Jim having to manage him - but like so much of this season, it seems like a rehash of things the show has done before, and better.
(*) So when Andy and Erin did their "Dunder Mifflin and Sob-Ray" song last week, I had somehow managed to avoid having ever heard the song it was based on, Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA." Then the next night I took my daughter to a father-daughter dance at her school, and they played it, and now I can not get that damn chorus out of my head, and Andy and Erin's version kept playing on a loop whenever anyone last night mentioned "Sabre."
On the plus side, I laughed a lot at the punchline to the teaser, and I enjoyed Jim dealing with Erin having spent too long as an assistant to Michael Scott. And Jim dunking Dwight's tie at episode's end was a nice reminder that it's funnier to see the two of them go after each other when they're equals, as opposed to when Jim is Dwight's superior (as he's technically been since the season 3 branch merger).
But after loving most of last season, I'm starting to get really frustrated with where this season is going (or not going).
What did everybody else think?